Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

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“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

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Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. jude

    he'd apply for medicaid. no one would hire a long haired hippy looking guy, skill or no skill. well, maybe in some compound he might fit in...he does not fit the aggresive greedy business personality so popular and idealized these days, especially amongst "christians." the irony.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  2. Jim

    Jesus most certainly support reform but the debate is on what would He suggest reform.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .,

    March 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Qubee

      Does not!

      March 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • ignorance!

      What's not healthy is zombifying children, using books written by man, and claiming they are the "word of god!" for they are not the word of god, but the word of mere fallible men!
      Made by men, for "men"!


      March 31, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • just sayin

      Yes it does.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Our Own Personal Jesus


      March 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      In your ignorance you are not protecting children you are preventing them from having an abundant life, here and forever.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • jude

      atheis is not healthy for a country...beyond the physical control by parent, teachers, coach, police, boss, military...etc etc...all countries use some form of religion to apply the ultimate control on children and then adults. big daddy is always watching, listening and even in your brain, knows what you're thining. when one has absolutely nothing, a country can at least offer you religion. it's cheap, easy to diseminate and most humans are born gullible, easy to manipulate. works.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • ignorance!

      Im not saying they need to be atheist!
      im simply saying to use your god given gift of reason to teach them about the true god!
      And the true god is not what's written in your man made bible!

      March 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      All scripture (The Holy Bible) is God breathed.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  4. jude

    he's apply for medicaid. no one would hire a long haired hippy looking guy, skill or no skill. well, maybe in some compound he might fit in...he does not fit the aggresive greedy business personality so popular and idealized these days, especially amongst "christians." the irony.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  5. How to create total psychological gridlock

    If you are Christian, you relly should consider Jesus in all things. Don't rush to hasty conclusions, but really consider them.

    What would Jesus order for lunch? Would he go to McDonalds, or is he concerned about the deforestation of the rainforest and avoid the place? Would Jesus be a vegetarian, of would he let animals be slaughtered to feed him? Would he be concerned about the genetic modification of crops and not eat them, or would he just plow into it? Would he be concerned about the steroids that are alterring the animals he and his dad gave humans?

    Okay, "what would Jesus do" has totally ruined lunch. Time to put on your shoes and . . . wait, would Jesus approve of shoes and the sweat shops that are a result of the demand for shoes? Would he approve of having the skin stripped off of animals to make them? Would he approve of the polution that comes from manufacturing processes?

    Crap! Don't know what to do about shoes or lunch. Too many confusing Jesus variables. I better just . . . oh crud! Too many potential What Would Jesus Do issues to even mention that one!

    March 31, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  6. dave

    Jesus preached that we should help others but help yourself if you are able. In that philosophy you are responsbile for your own health care. The people only have the obligation to provide assistance to those who cannot help themselves.

    The government does NOT have an obligation to provide for you because you spent all your money and cars, boats, and big screen TVs.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  7. vincent

    you know when Jesus cam to earth he came to preach the love of the father to see mankind find health and wholeness in all of their lives. Jesus preached about Gods Love and Mercy . while i believe in divine healing i would never presume to tell someone
    they only need faith to be healed . there are many who have faith and don't get healed. in saying that i believe in a merciful God and believe medicine is here for humanity. so in my understanding of the loving God i have a relationship with I believe He would be in favor of Universal health care. if people want to quote the Bible proverbs says when a nation shuts its ears to the poor God will shut his ears in that nations time of need. God is very much concerned for the poor and my concern politics are only to willing to stop helping the poor for the rich and profit line God help us all

    March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  8. ignorance!

    The inclination Pat Robertson and the religious right have to equate themselves with such important and intelligent Americans as Thomas Jefferson is obvious to anyone who has glanced through any of Pat's numerous books. The fraudulent nature of their efforts is manifest to those of us who take the time to read the writings of Jefferson and compare them to the rantings of Robertson.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • ignorance!

      His ability to not only lie, but to lie convincingly, has been essential in Pat's self-ordained mission to organize millions of primarily sincere Americans into a political action organization that sends Republican "leaders" scurrying to please the powerful organization and its leaders.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Cookie

    Hello, I am the forgotten.
    The one who can afford heath insurance, but cannot get it, because of a pre-existing condition.
    I used to get regular check ups, have all the regular testing done, etc. But since my husband died, I can't afford to.
    What good would it do, anyway?
    If a test found something wrong I couldn't afford to treat it.
    I would just die.
    Obama care would have saved me, but no one thought of me, or the thousands like me.
    We did our job. We raised our kids. We took care of our husbands. We cared for them through their illnesses. We buried them. Then we turned around and saw it was a big, mean world out there, and we didn't belong in it anymore.

    March 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      But this issue is exactly why the whole approach to the problem by left and right is foolish. Insurance traditionally has been all ABOUT planning for RISK, NOT about getting someone else to pay for a known problem. But then the question is why can't people afford to treat known problems? Why DOES it cost tens of thousands of dollars to be in a hospital a few days. I had a chronic wound due to a vascular condition. It needed regular debriding. Each debriding took about 5 minutes and was about as complicated as brushing your teeth as far as technical skills of the debrider is concerned. But each of these treatments generated a bill for over $1000, which the insurance company negotiated "down" to a couple hundred dollars. Where's the outrage? This is simple piracy. When something so stupidly simple and absurdly quick costs so much, arguing about who should pay the bill misses the point. NO ONE should be paying a bill anywhere near this high.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • jude

      go to your local church...tell them jesus spoke to you and said "go my child as the local church will get you all the help you need for your ills and will help make all the arrangments needed for your household while to mend." the church elders will immediately call apon the communty to assist you with food, funds, transportation, personal care and help with your finances as needed. the church is a wonderful place and all the christians within will embrace with joy as they give thanks for their good fortune.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  10. ignorance!

    Zombies are always a scare to children! In Matthew 27:52-53 we read about what can only be described as zombies or the living dead. It states, "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Based on this tall tale when Jesus died the "saints" arose from the dead but stayed put at their graves until about 45 hours later when Jesus came back to life and came out of his tomb. At that time they strolled into Jerusalem "and appeared unto many." No adult in his or her right mind would ever believe this Biblical lie. However, it does have much potential to frighten little children.



    March 31, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Jim

      What exactly does this have to do with the healthcare discussion. I suppose it demonstrates the lack of civility that is present in the agenda of those against Christ's message.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Qubee

      I'd go one step further. Outlaw religion, period.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Qubee

      Jim – condoning stupidity is not acceptable.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Jim

      Qubee, please define under what standards Christianity becomes labeled as stupidity?

      March 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Definition of STUPIDITY
      1: the quality or state of being stupid
      2: a stupid idea or act

      Synonyms: boneheadedness, brainlessness, dim-wittedness, doltishness, dumbness, foolishness, mindlessness, senselessness, simpleness, stupidness, weak-mindedness, witlessness

      March 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Jim

      AGuest9 thank you for the definition, even though that's not what I asked. The question is far more indepth than that.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  11. JohnnyKay

    You're kidding?

    Fifty million 'christians' dont know what to do?

    March 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  12. Jim

    Jesus emphasized the kingdom, not the kingdom of Rome, not the great empire of the USA, but the kingdom of God. And he outlined what a person who belongs to this kingdom look like. Blessed are the poor in spirit... anyone? When Jesus commissions his followers to do something, his commission is a kingdom commission. Jesus looks at his church and says we should do more, not the government of the USA or any other government. That said, he doesn't speak to limit what these do either, so supporting or not supporting the health care law should be based solely on politicial ideology.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • migeli

      Who cares about the "kingdom "we're taljing about here and now,you know "reality"and you're sick and can't go to a doctor an d your job is at stake.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Jim

      @migeli- let me try and put this near nonsense you wrote together, the question is what is Jesus opinion regarding government healthcare. When Jesus is in the equation, the kingdom means everything.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  13. Josh Gonzalez

    At this point Jesus isn't conservative enough to be in the GOP.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Qubee

      Jesus is dead. Nailed to the cross, and the crows ate his eyeballs, remeber?

      March 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  14. gk196

    It's called 'GET A JOB'

    March 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • migeli

      What if you have a job and can't afford insurance and your job requires you to be there and you're too sick to go.? MORON

      March 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Apparently you fail to realize that there are many 40-hour-per-week jobs that do not offer health insurance because it is "too expensive".

      March 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Josh Gonzalez

    I don't remember Jesus preaching that rich people are more deserving of health care than poor people.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  16. ignorance!


    March 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  17. jack d

    This is a stupid question because Jeasus is fake. retards

    March 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Jim

      If only history and archaeology didn't disagree with you.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Qubee

      Jim, there's no historical record of Jesus.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Robinhood

      Why do u want to keep telling Christians that they are wrong in what they believe...and we have to believe all the garbage that men came from monkeys...

      March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Jim

      Qubee, I beg to differ, assuming we disregard scripture in particular the NT and the archaelogical evidence that supports the historicity of it, we have the somewhat flawed, but fairly reliable accounts of Josephus. However, I'm not here to debate the existence of Jesus, but the answer to the question, would he have supported the healthcare law. If you don't believe Jesus ever existed, there isn't much point in commenting.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Philo-Judæus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Hermogones, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Appian, Phlegon, Phædrus, Valerius Maximus, Lucian, Pausanias, Florus Lucius, Quintius Curtius, Aulus Gellius, Dio Chrysostom, Columella, Valerius Flaccus, Damis, Favorinus, Lysias, Pomponius Mela, Appion of Alexandria, and Theon of Smyrna:

      All of these First and Second Century historians, and not one of them wrote a single word of this wondrous Jesus of Nazareth. Isn't that odd, with all of the miraculous claims made about him by his followers?

      March 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • just sayin

      Truth be told there are about 20 credible texts other than the Holy Bible that reference Jesus, some are entire books contesting the doctrines of Christianity. This does not include the Gnostic writings or Jewish writings explaining the empty tomb.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Robinhood

      http://dmc.members.sonic.net/sentinel/naij3.html... plenty of historical references...and secondly...another major religion accepts his presence....Islam....

      March 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Jim

      AGuest9, first it is well known that 1st and 2nd century Roman historians held a strong lack of interest in Christianity. However, it didn't stop references from cropping up. Cassius Dio, for example. Also, Pliny the younger, which curiously makes your list, was well known for his docu_ mentation of the happenings of Christianity in the Empire. I dare not jump into your copy and pasted list there from a less reliable source as I don't have the time, but I caution you, don't believe all the lack of evidence you hear. The evidence is there and it's well accepted.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Furthermore, passages in the Testimonium Flavianium and the Antiquities are pointed out to both quite likely being later insertions. The existing text is in Greek, and is therefore, not the original. There would be no reason for Josephus, a Jew, to refer to this man Jesus as "the Christ".

      March 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Pliny the Younger specifically refers to the beliefs and practices of Christians around 100 CE. This is providing as much "proof" as a present-day book on Christians.

      March 31, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • AGuest9

      just sayin,

      Truth is the LAST thing I look for in your posts.

      March 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Robinhood, there are so many factual issues with that piece, I wouldn't know where (nor do I have the time tonight) to begin.

      March 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • just sayin

      Your inability to see Truth is not my problem. God bless

      March 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Anon

      Up yours too.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  18. wjgiunta

    This subject is utter nonsense!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  19. Qubee

    Obamacare is another re-distribution of income. Another freebe taken from the middle class and given to the poor, and the rich get richer.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Qubee


      March 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  20. johnfrichardson

    I am sure there are stupider questions one could ask, but I'm having trouble coming up with one at the moment.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Of course not

      You are not competent to come up with them. You need religious people to come up with questions this fucking stupid.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • dontbow

      well since most Americans dont want this pathetic healthcare bill that costs us trillions, i think the numbers are much higher than 50/50. i doubt even many democrats are stupid enough to really think the trillions in dollars we will spend on this bill is worth it.

      March 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.